On Being a Public Figure Online

Several years ago I made the decision to become a public figure online. Now, I can’t say that I sat down and made an informed decision but nonetheless, it was a decision. As I have recently been thinking over the effects this has had on me and my life, I wanted to share some of them this week.

Why did I do it? Truthfully, much by chance. I’ve always had an ambition for creating something bigger and a passion for education and teaching. Incidentally, as I was growing up came the internet. Though being active on forums, sharing your knowledge, you ultimately become a figure in the community.

By jumping on the Twitter bandwagon in 2008, starting an educational website (with Adobe tutorials), the smaller community that was forums could quickly grow to a larger global one. What had I just done? I had (consciously or unconsciously) decided to become a public figure.

How has this affected me? There are some obvious implications. Where most people my age are able to have personal social media profiles, mine still have to reflect a public brand. It also means that I have given up any notion of privacy online a long while ago. Why? Because people read and expect you to always be your public self.

This becomes especially apparent when you meet someone who cites something you wrote on Twitter or from a blog post. I’m very flattered when this happens, and very humble that people read what I write. However, it always serves as a wake-up call that you have to moderate not just what you share, but what you do quite extensively (basically, you have to grow up even quicker). You have to exercise far more self-control, which is not always easy.

At times I’ve wondered how life would have been different if I had never done this. Often I have wondered how it would be if I had just been a “normal” teenager growing up. I shall never know…

Only recently have I been able to come to terms with this, and realize that in fact being this public figure is who I am, what I do, and a necessity for doing what I do. And if I love what I do? You bet!